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Inside the Beltway: Alec Baldwin’s fracas

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Consider one Phelim McAleer — not an ancient Celtic folk hero, but an Irish filmmaker who defuses climate alarmism and annoys activist celebrities. Mr. McAleer made the 2009 documentary "Not Evil Just Wrong" to counter global warming claims made in "An Inconvenient Truth," produced with much ado by Al Gore some seven years ago. Mr. McAleer offers "FrackNation" to film audiences this year, meant to demystify and laud fracking, the oil and gas drilling technique that offends the likes of Mr. Gore — and the very green-minded Alec Baldwin.

The actor is in a fit of pique because Mr. McAleer was nominated by the Independent Oil and Gas Association to serve on a specialist' panel at the upcoming Hamptons International Film Festival, where the anti-fracking film "Gasland Part II" will be showcased.

It's a fracking fracas. Mr. Baldwin is on the executive board of the event, and will serve as a presenter. He is also a prolific tweeter, and so far this week has challenged Mr. McAleer to a debate, declaring him to be a "shill for gas companies," "a lumpy old gas whore" and a "Breitbart-style, tape editing, Kool-Aid dispensing bs artist." Among other things.

Mr. McAleer has accepted the challenge, but so far there's silence from Mr. Baldwin, who has since blocked the filmmaker from his Twitter account. The Heartland Institute, meanwhile, has volunteered to fund and host a debate.

"Mr. Baldwin, it's up to you: Any time, any place, and any rules. Heartland will cover all expenses. If you're not comfortable with Heartland covering your expenses, you're welcome to pay your own way to the debate. Phelim certainly seems game," observes Jim Lakely, spokesman for the nonprofit research group, in his invitation.

READ IT AND RANT

By now, most of the known universe has heard that amid a noisy Capitol Hill hearing examining IRS targeting of conservative groups, the federal agency itself came under fire Tuesday for spending $49 million on employee conferences, parties, hotel rooms, event planners, employee gifts, fancy speakers, welcome receptions and other gaudy fare. The source of the damning information: a 63-page report from the office of the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Uh-oh. Read the report yourself here: treasury.gov/tigta, under the "recent audit reports" heading.

THERE SHE IS

"Defend the vision of our forefathers, streamline the tax code, reduce the national debt, oppose burdensome regulation, increase global demand respect for every individual."

And so reads the brand-new campaign platform of one Erika Harold, age 33, Miss America 2003 and an attorney who Tuesday announced her intent to run for U.S. Congress in the 13th Congressional District of Illinois. She challenges Rep. Rodney Davis, a fellow Republican.

"I have a pretty thick skin at this point in my life, which I know you must have if you're in politics," Miss Harold said at her big afternoon reveal in Decatur.

GET INTO THE ACT

The "Skills Act," "Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act," "Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act," "Obamacare Repeal Act." Sound familiar? They are all legislative bills already introduced before the U.S. House, and part of a huge gaggle of acts that now numbers 2,526.

In the name of transparency, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia has fired up Cosponsor.gov, a comprehensive website that lists the bills and their explanations, while providing a social media-driven way for the public to weigh in on it all. Users can choose to "cosponsor" or at least follow the legislation. The site, naturally, accesses their Facebook credentials, and the reactions are complete in a moment.

"We live in a digital world," says Mr. Cantor, framing the site as a way to enhance the national conversation between the American people and elected officials.

"The new website will now feature every bill and resolution introduced in the House, from Republicans and Democrats," he notes, adding, "Transparency, open government and engagement should be a key goal of all elected leaders in Washington, and Cosponsor.gov is one step in that direction."

GEEZER ALERT

Hey, why not? The AARP has organized a "50-plus Real People Model Search," seeking all those tenacious boomer types who "love who they are right now." Or something like that, anyway. A $5,000 sweepstakes prize is involved; seven winners will be flown to New York City for a photo shoot and featured in the December issue of the organization's fancy magazine.

Find the information here: sweeps.aarp.org/facesof50.

POLITICAL PANTHEON

The mainstream media would love to ignore this: There are conservative titans a-plenty at the upcoming "Road to Majority" conference organized by the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which has a confirmed speakers list that includes Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee and Reps. Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Tom Price, Louie Gohmert and Marsha Blackburn.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be along, as well as Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Allen B. West, Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson and Herman Cain.

"We want them to leave this conference prepared to bring about a pro-family majority in Washington and in every state capital," a spokesman says.

They expect about 2,000 participants at a major hotel some three blocks from the White House. The three-day conference begins June 13.

POLL DU JOUR

32 percent of Americans report they prepare a monthly household budget; 34 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of conservatives, 26 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of liberals say the same.

32 percent overall use a computer or online financial program to help them manage their money; so do 29 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of conservatives, 29 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of liberals.

30 percent have a long-term financial plan that outlines savings and investments; 32 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of conservatives, 25 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of liberals also have a plan.

24 percent overall use an accountant or financial planner to help them; 30 percent of Republicans, 26 percent of conservatives, 18 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of liberals say the same.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,012 U.S. adults conducted April 11-14 and released Monday.

Squawks, bickering, righteous indignation to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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